By Jeffrey Swindoll
Baylor soccer started and ended two streaks this weekend in Illinois. The Bears’ three-game win streak came to a halt after falling to No. 19 Notre Dame in a nip and tuck 1-0 road battle for the Bears on Friday night. The Bears (5-3-0) dropped their second match of the weekend to Illinois State in a 2-1 overtime shocker.
All of Baylor’s losses this season have been one-goal differential losses, and it was the first time the Bears have followed a loss with another loss. They fell just short on a few defensive mistakes in a generally solid two-game stretch of road performances.
In the Notre Dame match, both teams faced five shots on goal each, which forced timely saves from each of the goalkeepers. It was ND’s third consecutive shutout this season, as they saved three shots in a second half surge from the Bears.
“The team carried the momentum they built last weekend into tonight, and defensively we were very solid,” Fighting Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo said. “I thought we also created a lot of offensive opportunities for ourselves, which is something we are trying to improve on. We just need to continue to create chances, and eventually we will start scoring more goals.”
Aerial dominance is a strength that Baylor co-head coach Marci Jobson said she was expecting to see from Notre Dame and it turned out to be the only goal the Bears conceded in the match. It was the first goal this season that the Bears conceded on a set piece, aside from a penalty kick against BYU.
“We made one mistake the entire game and [Notre Dame] made us pay for it,” Baylor co-head coach Marci Jobson said. “We played a great game and I’m really happy with the majority of what we did. We had chances all the way up to the end of the game. Hate to lose, but to play like that against that type of team on the road — can’t be too mad.”
The dynamic of the Illinois State game shaped up much different than the Notre Dame match. The type of opponent they were facing against Illinois State very much resembled Utah Valley University, a team the Bears faced earlier this season and unexpectedly lost 2-1.
The novelty of facing Illinois State presented a very specific challenge for Baylor players unlike when they played a well-known and established Notre Dame team just two days before, which Baylor struggled to counter.
As opposed to UVU, the Bears did not concede the first goal. Sophomore midfielder Ashley York cracked a 25-yard shot early into the first half for her second goal of the season and eighth career goal for the Bears.
The lead did not last long for the Bears, conceding a goal for the second straight match when Illinois State equalized just over 15 minutes from the break. Those were the only goals scored in regulation as the match went into sudden death overtime — next goal wins.
“I thought we stepped up to challenge physically,” ISU head coach Drew Ruff said. “We made sure to try and continue to play our game and not get caught up in the back-and-forth. We hung in there and stuck with it.”
Illinois State struck first, just four minutes into the first overtime period, which ended the game rather earlier than expected for the Bears.
“[Illinois State] have two great players that combined on their goals,” Jobson said. “They got it when it counted. We have to continue fighting. We have to get back to work, learn and move on to keep getting better.”
The Bears will close a three-game road trip against the UTSA Roadrunners at 7 p.m. Friday in San Antonio.